The Corona Effect – Can you explain it in eight words or less?

Clouds pile up like mounds of gray wool on a shearing floor. Staring into them, half meditating, half daydreaming, I’m reminded my lesson today is presence. Take time. Be in the moment. Feel the breeze. Smell the incense. In the distance, wind chimes clunk their hollowed-out happiness.

And there’s that other sound.

When I first moved to Bali I blew up a hair dryer. It gave me a healthy respect for 230 voltage – a bit different from 110, standard in the US. I assumed the buzzing sound I heard throughout the day, all day, every day, was that powerful current ripping through the tangle of wires festooned overhead.

Several months passed and I was visiting a mountain village. There were no wires yet the humming persisted. I asked a local, “What’s that sound?”

Jangkrik,” he said.

“Electric?” I asked, thinking I’d heard wrong.

He repeated it very slowly, “Jaaaangkriiiik,” opening his mouth long and narrow for the first syllable, then wide and toothy for the second, looking at me in a way that communicated his sympathy for my obvious mental inadequacies.

I had him write the word.

When I got home I typed jangkrik into Google Translate and hooted.


All this time those humming wires of my imagination were simply thousands of little bugs singing their lungs out.

So back to the sights, smells, and sounds of this morning…

I wanted to add cicadas to my opening paragraph and say they sounded like the buzz of overloaded electrical wires. But it dawned on me there might be an actual name for that occurrence.

Google to the rescue – and I kid you not. That high-voltage phenomenon is called the Corona Effect.

This kind of thing happens to me all the time. What are the chances I’d google that today, or ever for that matter? But I did, and when I read this part of the definition, I knew why.

Corona discharge from high voltage electric power transmission lines constitutes an economically significant waste of energy…

The corona discharge of this pandemic is:

  • Uncertainty
  • Misinformation
  • Restriction
  • Loss of income
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Death

Its effect is a significant waste of energy, and managing the reality and the fear around so much negativity requires conservation of resources. The only action that seems to accomplish that is to be fully in the present.

If you were inside my head today, you’d have heard my new mantra:

This is a precious moment of life. Don’t waste it worrying about the future or regretting the past. Engage fully with this moment and be grateful for all that’s good, right here, right now. That’s enough.

Until now my nervous system has been a victim of the Corona Effect, twanging away on overload, leaving me permanently exhausted. Today was different.

I love this teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh –

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While thinking of other things we are barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus, we are sucked away into the future — and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

Today I washed the dishes to wash the dishes.

The Dharma of Diarrhea

I enjoyed a fun night out with friends watching a film at Namaste. It was Deepak Chopra doing what Deepak does so well. And if you don’t know Deepak, I’ll clue in in. He was charming an audience with his brilliant mind. And though I’m onto him, I succumbed to his spell and left believing that if you think it, so it shall be. Of course I believe that to a certain degree anyway, but on with my story.

I hit my pillow within moments of returning home and fell asleep instantly. About 2 a.m. something roused me. Suddenly I was fully awake, flinging my bedcovers wildly to the side, and mad-dashing it to the toilet not quite in time. I felt remarkably ill but the cramping subsided and I fumbled in the drawer for fresher undies. Back in bed I employed deep breathing techniques and tried to quell the disturbance in my belly. That lasted the whole of 10 minutes and I was again dashing, and again off in my timing. This story repeated itself until I realized I should just set by a store of clean underthings and minimize my effort. I grabbed a handful of tidy-whites and stacked them conveniently near the toilet.

About this time things were escalating. My body has a strange and familiar routine when it needs to vomit.  First a sensation like a ripple of electricity passes through me. Cold sweat breaks out and nausea of the most wretched kind triggers the gag reflex. Then I pass out. The throne in my current residence sits on a curious little 5″ pedestal. That would allow for a 5 inch greater distance to fall and smack my head on the unyeilding tile floor in the event of a faint.  The electric ripple had begun. I scrambled off the throne and went prone on the tile averting catastrophe. The technique worked remarkably well. I skipped the faint and went straight to full-on vomiting.

The following two days were lost in a delerium of raging fever, chills, and body aches that made me wonder where I had filed the ibuprophen. But I was in no condition to look for it. I had to conserve my energy for the ongoing poop dashes. There had been a single bout of vomiting but I seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of do-do. Ketut came by with fresh young coconut water. I affectionately screamed at him to get out and get as far away from my vile germs as possible. Wayan stopped in and insisted on hacking the nut open and pouring the nutrient packed water into a glass so I could drink it. I began to scream at her, too, but she sushed me and told me she works with patients at the hospital and never gets sick. I meekly obeyed.

It’s now the end of the eighth day of feeling less than wonderful. I have a new found reverence for the word, diarrhea. I also have a s**t-load of dirty laundry secured tightly in a plastic bag that I can’t bring myself to open. I am contemplating just making it go away, but I have visions of roving dogs sniffing it out and distributing my dainties throughout the streets of Ubud. If had a washing machine and could hold my nose, close my eyes, and dump the darned things in a tub of swirling, soapy, water, it would be a non-issue. But no. Every stinky piece must be scrubbed by hand and hung out to dry.


Thich Nhat Hanh

I know what I have to do. It’s a lesson…of course. I remember the teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh where he tells a student, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” It’s an exercise in mindfulness. I need to wash the undies in order to wash the undies and take joy in the fact that I have life and breath available for washing the blighted underwear! But not tonight. Not yet. I’m quite certain that tmorrow is destined to be deeply supportive of this particular mindfulness practice!

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